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Smithfield gastation crates
Our corrupt and toxic agriculture sector has sold us out to the highest bidder, and that would be the Chinese. With the approval of the sale of Smithfield foods, the world's largest pork producer, the Chinese have successfully made a land and water grab right here in the U.S.A.

As usual Mark Bittman at the New York Times doesn't spare anyone in his assessment of the Smithfield deal.

The fact is that China is going to be a net importer of food more or less forever: it’s got a fifth of the world’s population (and eats a fifth of the world’s food), but only nine percent of its agricultural land and scarce water resources. (The average pig takes nearly 600 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat.)

So even more than a technology grab, the Smithfield deal is a land and water grab. We still have the world’s most enviable combination of arable land, rainfall and temperate weather, and there’s no practical technological substitute for any of these. It’s the consumption of these resources, along with the manure deposits, that make the Smithfield deal, to paraphrase Warren Buffett, a form of colonization by purchase rather than conquest. In short, the deal, as Minxin Pei wrote in Fortune, is “really about owning access to America’s safe farmland and clean water supplies.”

The Smithfield-Shuanghui deal guarantees China the pork while offloading the downsides of pork production onto The Land of the Free. It guarantees us cropland devoted to chemical-dependent monoculture; continued overuse of water and other resources, none of which we can afford to squander; and great big stinking piles of manure. In sum, it transfers the environmental damage of large-scale pork production from China to the United States.

We've become China's farm team. Get used to it. The U.S. subsidizes corn and soy. Forty-seven percent of soy and 60 percent of corn produced in the U.S. is being consumed by livestock. This allows industrial animal agriculture to self-regulate and look the other way regarding the greenhouse gas emissions of livestock. This is our future.

Originally posted to beach babe in fl on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 07:56 AM PST.

Also republished by Meatless Advocates Meetup.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Now what? (4+ / 0-)

    Looks like this is a very done deal.  Does anyone know how much of the pork produced here will actually be exported to China?  Will none of it remain in the US?  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:05:25 AM PST

  •  the blood of Chinese children has been on our (3+ / 0-)

    consumer goods for years, so turnabout is fair play I suupose

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:42:04 AM PST

    •  Well... the 350,000,000 long-distance commuter (0+ / 0-)

      slaves count for something.

      People who have been forced to leave their homes and children. Because the Communist Party of China twisted the prices of food and staple goods to make life in the countryside untenable.

      So they went to dormitory jails and spend their lives producing schlock for people who pay on credit.

      The kids ??? Sure thing.

  •  Food exports to China is a good thing, no? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CanyonWren, Sky Net

    I am not sure why this is spun as such a negative thing. Yes, I understand that food production is a dirty process that needs to be regulated. But that is neither here nor there. Food export to China (or anywhere else) is a good thing for America and american workers.

    Now if we were importing pork from China- that would be a problem.

    •  increased greenhouse gas and increased pollution (8+ / 0-)

      due to meat exports can no way be considered a good thing.  we are exporting an unsustainable product..makes no sense.

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:53:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's mostly an issue with beef production (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sky Net

        Pigs, if anything, are nature's recycler.  If we wanted to, we could feed food scraps to pigs (and we have TONS of food scraps in this country).

        But in any event none of this has to do with China. You want to reduce meat consumption? Start here in the US with americans. Americans still eat far more beef (although slightly less now)  per capita than the chinese. Let's start changing that right here at home. You want to make agriculture cleaner, more sustainable? Let's do that. You can do that regardless of whether the farms are owned by the chinese or by americans.

        I am very wary of China being used as the all-purpose bogeyman du jour. Smithfield farm was raising pigs before the chinese took over. Why was it not a problem when americans owned it? Why is it suddenly a problem now that a chinese corporation owns it?

        •  It isn't an issue with any livestock. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VL Baker, julesrules39, John Crapper

          It is an issue with how livestock of any species are raised and managed.

          While I am not the diarist (and the diarist and I have had our share of disagreements, mind you!), I would say that the product they are producing IS unsustainable.

          One of the reasons I actually recommended this diary is that there was a consistent use of adjectives describing what kinds of livestock production the diarist was talking about. It is not suddenly a problem, but it is a problem because we are continuing to export and aid in the continuation and expansion of wholly destructive practices.

          The "cheap" and "clean" and "efficient" (not saying you said those things) meat production these facilities represent are none of the above and it is a problem that this model is continuing to be seen as a responsible choice.

          And VL Baker is one of the most consistent supporters of those either cutting out meat partially or abstaining completely at this site. She started with Americans a long time ago and continues to this day.

          •  I am all for sustainable agriculture and quality (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            julesrules39

            rather than quantity when it comes to meat production. Incidentally- there is a big, booming demand for american organic foods in China, because chinese consumers are scared of their own chemical ridden foods. So ironically, the path to more sustainable agriculture could very well be through ... you guessed it... exports to China!

            •  Could be. (0+ / 0-)

              Another way would be to continue promoting projects in China that restore degraded lands and teach about agroecology, agroforestry, and regenerative landscape use.

              That way we wouldn't be setting ourselves up to continue exporting carbon and nutrients embedded in produce across the globe in such large amounts, with little chance that any of those resources will be returned to the soil where the produce originated.

              But, that could be a way by increasing demand. However, a serous attempt at closing the loops on a global scale becomes very complicated.

      •  what exactly is not sustainable about hog (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        icemilkcoffee

        production?

        If you are claiming that any meat production at all is inherently non-sustainable, then you have not demonstrated that claim.

        •  I don't think that VL Baker was claiming that all (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          julesrules39

          meat production is inherently non-sustainable.

          Oftentimes, her diaries give me that impression, but this time- I felt that the aim was directly at the CAFO, industrialized production that is unsustainable.

          The raising of hogs can be done in a regenerative manner, but Smithfield is absolutely not a poster-boy of that movement.

        •  Agreed. The potential is there for hogs to be very (0+ / 0-)

          sustainable. I watched a kids' show recently with my kids, which talked about a pig farmer who feeds his pigs with food scraps and leftovers from the local restaurants. The pigs just gobble up all the food scraps that would have gone into the landfill otherwise. The show mentioned that due to some regulations, these pigs cannot be used for human consumption, so they use the pork in dog food instead.

          I could envision a system where we could feed pigs with kitchen scraps (ie. not table scraps) and expired or disfigured foods from the supermarkets, and potentially the pork could be good for human consumption.

        •  The unsustainability comes from... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VL Baker, Claudius Bombarnac

          ... factory-scale production. It doesn't seem to matter if it's cattle, pigs, or chickens, factory production has an impact on the environment that is significantly more than Farmer Brown's raising a few cattle or pigs that he sells each year. The most commonly cited impact is upon the water supply. A lot or water is being used and what isn't being used gets fouled by runoff from the manure created by the livestock. The one that gets me is all the antibiotics that are being fed to cattle and hogs, by some estimates 80% of the antibiotics manufactured each year. If the polluted water doesn't do us in, the superbugs that result from all the overuse of antibiotics will.

    •  Would you say the same same for coal ? (5+ / 0-)

      "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

      by indycam on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:58:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except pork is less polluting than beef (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        julesrules39

        Beef and lamb production is much worse than pork production because these are ruminant animals which emit methane.  Americans consume something like 4-5 times more beef per capita than the chinese. Now you tell me- where should you be pointing fingers?

        Americans are eating significantly less beef now than back in the 70's.  So that is a great development. But we still have quite a ways to go. It's silly to be hyperventilating about chinese eating pork when americans are still addicted to hamburgers.

        •  I'm a veggie . (0+ / 0-)

          That pork is more or less polluting doesn't answer the question asked .
          Would you say the same same for coal ?

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...

          Scientists are baffled by an expanding foam that is growing on manure pits and causing entire hog farms to explode.

          Six farms have blown up since 2009 - killing thousands of animals - after methane trapped inside the unidentified foam caught a spark.

          And there's no stopping it: the foam has now started growing on one in four farms across the Midwest.

          http://www.japantoday.com/...
          AOMORI —

          Police said Sunday that two workers at a pig farm in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, were found dead on Saturday night. The results of an autopsy showed the two men died of methane gas inhalation, according to police.

          The bodies of the two workers, aged 36 and 63, were found in a sludge storage tank at about 8 p.m. Saturday night, Fuji TV reported. Police believe they died from inhaling methane gas from the excrement of the pigs.

          http://www.google.com/...
          Where is the pigs’ enteric gas produced and how is it measured.
          The variation in methane emission and factors affecting the emission.
          Possibility for reducing the enteric methane emission and the consequences.

          "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

          by indycam on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:09:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Vegetarianism is all good and fine (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Claudius Bombarnac

            and we should all eat less meat  anyways. But this has nothing to do with the scare-quoted 'China!' that gets invoked over and over again in this diary.

            And you still haven't addressed my point- pork production causes ~3x less greenhouse gases than beef:
            http://static.ewg.org/...
            In fact, pork production emits less GHG than cheese production. If you eat cheese- you are contributing more GHG than the pork eater. If greenhouse gas is your concern then you need to start talking about beef consumption. And that is solidly an american problem, not a chinese one.

            •  been writing about all meat consumption here (0+ / 0-)

              for over 5 years.  i'm vegan and agree all meat and animal products are major contributors to climate change.

              Macca's Meatless Monday

              by VL Baker on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:54:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I've looked up and down (0+ / 0-)

              I've searched all over
              I still don't see you addressing my question about coal .
              Until you can be bothered to actually answer the question ,
              I'll just say your game playing is just all hot air and worthless .

              "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

              by indycam on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:04:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  This diary says nothing about coal, that's why I (0+ / 0-)

                decided to not get sidetracked.

                •  I never said the diary mentioned coal (0+ / 0-)

                  I asked you a question that you still have not answered .

                  Are you going to use the same argument for coal exports or are you not ?

                  Coal exports to China is a good thing, no?
                  I am not sure why this is spun as such a negative thing. Yes, I understand that coal production is a dirty process that needs to be regulated. But that is neither here nor there. Coal export to China (or anywhere else) is a good thing for America and american workers.

                  If not , why not ?

                  "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

                  by indycam on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:45:05 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Coal is the most polluting energy source (0+ / 0-)

                    Also- there are alternatives to coal. that's why coal is not a good thing whether it is consumed here or anywhere else. Also- we have greatly reduced our own coal use, so now we are in a position to help others do the same.  Most importantly, if I was writing a diary about coal mining, I would focus on how much coal is being dug out of the ground. It doesn't matter one whit to me whether it is chinese corporations doing that digging, or american corporations.  That is a pointless diversion designed to demonize an 'other'.

                    Now pork is not the most carbon intensive meat. Lamb and beef are.  To overlook the american consumption of beef, while criticizing a chinese corporation that tries to sell the less polluting alternative to chinese consumers is plain hypocrisy. Unlike fossil fuel in the ground or raising of ruminants, the raising of pigs is not inherently a polluting activity. In fact, if done properly, your pigs could recycle a lot of stuff that is headed to the landfills. So while it does take energy to raise hogs and slaughter hogs you could say the same thing about pretty much all human activities. I am not into the 'austerity' school of environmentalism. The school which regards all human economic activities as detrimental.  Environmentalism as a straitjacket will never sell. I'd rather embrace a more positive environmentalism of possibilities.

    •  Thoughtful question. The problem is regulations (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shahryar, limpidglass, julesrules39

      on large agricultural farms (CAFO's) are relaxed state-by-state, having a direct impact on clean water supplies. I'm not sure there is a big difference between a US corporation or a Chinese corporation buying the pig farm, as the regs will inevitably relax if Republicans and $$-connected Dem legislators and regulators have anything to do with it. In my opinion, corporations should have to pay a big tax in order to deal with their shit piles, and when their operations contaminate fresh water supplies…but the push-pull, as always, is regulation and deregulation.

      "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying."Edward Snowden -6.62, -6.92

      by CanyonWren on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:08:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Food production is not a dirty process. (5+ / 0-)

      Food production can- and is, more often than not, a dirty process.

      But it doesn't have to be. It can be regenerative (beyond sustainable).

      We need to rid ourselves of the notions that these abominations are necessary evils. Even the raising of livestock need not be dirty or destructive.

      The UN Conference on Trade and Development released a report this year (one of a long string of reports by international experts) saying:

      What is now required is a shift towards diverse production patterns that reflect the multi-functionality of agriculture and enhance close nutrient cycles.
      Once again, food production is not dirty. Industrial food production is. Many techniques employed in non-industrial agriculture are dirty and destructive as well, they just usually take more time to show.
  •  No, it doesn't guarantee anything like that. (5+ / 0-)
    It guarantees us cropland devoted to chemical-dependent monoculture; continued overuse of water and other resources, none of which we can afford to squander; and great big stinking piles of manure. In sum, it transfers the environmental damage of large-scale pork production from China to the United States.
    The regulation of waste and the use of land remains subject to US regulation.

    I don't see the difference between China buying our ag produce from an American owned and controlled company (assuming Smithfield was American owned and controlled)
    and buying the company, at least to us.  

    To the Chinese, it's important, since the American standards for products sells well in China.

    But for us, what's the difference?

    If you have a policy that covers doctor's bills made necessary by a werewolf bite, and has the words "Health Insurance" on the cover, you can keep that policy!

    by Inland on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:59:06 AM PST

    •  only if you don't give a damn about climate change (0+ / 0-)

      would it not matter.

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:02:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  2009 Meat consumption per capita in kg (4+ / 0-)

        China 58.2

        United States of America 120.2

        http://chartsbin.com/...

        So let me get this straight: there's more climate change from selling pork to the Chinese than Americans?  

        If you have a policy that covers doctor's bills made necessary by a werewolf bite, and has the words "Health Insurance" on the cover, you can keep that policy!

        by Inland on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:10:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  2009 per capita meat consumption (3+ / 0-)

        in the US is twice China's.

        http://chartsbin.com/...

        Basically, the environment doesn't care whose eating the pork.

        If you have a policy that covers doctor's bills made necessary by a werewolf bite, and has the words "Health Insurance" on the cover, you can keep that policy!

        by Inland on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:12:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The US remains the world's highest consumer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        icemilkcoffee, rhutcheson

        of meat on a per capita basis. BTW, the reason for the increasing consumption of meat in developing countries has been from exports of American fast food companies like McDonald's and KFC.

        It is obvious it is Americans (and Australians) who "don't give a damn about climate change".

        Current Worldwide Annual Meat Consumption per capita

        BTW, one could make the very same argument about personal US consumption of energy and commodities. The real pig-outs in world conspicuous consumption remains Americans.

        The US remains the world leader in wasting food, mostly by the consumer. It wastes almost 1/3 of it's food production despite having the best production, storage and transportation system in the world - factors which account for food waste in developing countries.

        How much do you pay for gasoline compared to world standards? The US is now the #1 country that is fracking itself to death. Unfortunately, it is also exporting this technology.

        You should concentrate on changing American mores first rather than passing blame on to developing nations for the problems which have originated and remain problematic in the US.

        •  Fast food (0+ / 0-)

          People in developing countries are eating more meat because they're becoming better well off, not because there's a new KFC in their capital city.  Improving your diet and eating more meat is what all societies do when they become more prosperous.  They also get pets, which again increases total meat consumption.

          Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

          by Sky Net on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:01:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Advertising and marketing play a larger role in (0+ / 0-)

            the changing eating habits and preferences than increased disposable income. What McDonald's has done to America's children is now being done to children in developing countries but on a much more massive scale.
             

            Junk Food Marketing Makes Big Moves in Developing Countries
            2 October 2013

            KFC TV commercials that have aired in China over the last few years reveal a remarkably wide range of marketing techniques. In the ads, humor, irony, playfulness, and sentimentality present the restaurant’s quick-serve food as something that can help families bond, nourish athletes, entertain children, and even make teenagers cooler. Overall, the ads associate KFC with a modern lifestyle, suggesting (implicitly of course) that the Chinese can get their piece of middle class affluence–along with a full belly--for a reasonably low price.

            The ads might feel strikingly familiar to American consumers. Though they are in Mandarin and resemble some of the disingenuous marketing from the mid-20th century, at their core they are just examples of modern marketing, with the primary goal of boosting sales. And sales are booming for fast food and convenience food corporations in China and the rest of the world, as billions of dollars are pumped into marketing their products each year.

            While people in all countries are vulnerable to junk food marketing, developing countries might be facing the worst of it. Many transnational food corporations are moving into emerging markets because their markets in developed countries are at a “saturation point.” According to Carlos Monteiro, Head of the University of Sao Paolo’s Centre for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition, that point is reached when processed foods provide 60 percent of a country’s total calories. The U.S, Canada, and the U.K. reached this level several decades ago.

            Improving your diet and eating more meat is what all societies do when they become more prosperous.
            Fast food, high in fat and sugar, is not an improvement in diet. The US is the prime exporter of this crap diet. Fast food corporations like McDonald's and Coca Cola are becoming the greatest killer of humans in the world due to related diseases in consuming their products.
            •  No, they don't (0+ / 0-)

              People eat more meat when they get more prosperous.  This is Development 101.

              Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

              by Sky Net on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 02:49:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are quoting from a publication put out (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VL Baker

                by Animal Products Development Center which has a mandate to promote meat consumption in Asia.

                Right from its inauguration in 1992, APDC actively pursued its working mandate to support the growth of the meat and slaughter by-products industry through training, development and extension of appropriate technology, leading to improved methods of handling, processing and utilization of animal products and by-products.

                Due to its existing facilities and expertise, APDC hosted a Regional Project on, “Meat Commodity Diversification and Upgrading of Meat Processing Technologies in Asia-Pacific” from 2003 to 2006. The project was a joint undertaking of the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the German Centrum for International Migration and Development (CIM) and the Government of the Philippines (GOP).promoting meat consumption.

                Like I stated in my post. The excessive consumption of meat and sugar products is MAINLY due to highly seductive and effective advertising and marketing programs.

                You just got caught in one.....

                •  FAO (0+ / 0-)

                  My link was to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which is part of the United Nations.  I have no idea what you're linking to.

                  Want some more?  How about the Journal of Nutrition?

                  The Livestock Revolution is primarily driven by demand. Poor people everywhere are eating more animal products as their incomes rise above poverty level and as they become urbanized.

                  Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

                  by Sky Net on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:46:12 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  All of U.S. agriculture for both plant and animal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        icemilkcoffee

        systems emit just over 8% of CO2 equivalents according to
        U.S. EPA. which is the lead agency responsible for emission inventory assessment in the United States.

        Substituting pork for beef is an act that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, although substituting chicken for beef will reduce emissions to a greater degree.  However, since you are ideologically committed to no meat eating at all, you are unable to recognize that switching what meat you eat can be an act leading to GHG emission reduction.

      •  Also, won't countries like US and China be asked (0+ / 0-)

        to pay for climate change damage in the future?  If that happens, it will make a big difference as industrialized pork production will be expanded and we will be liable for those emissions.

        Furthermore, the waste from CAFO's is creating an environmental disaster here in America.  The last thing we need it a foreign country exacerbating that problem.  

        I don't understand the person who is worried about these jobs here in America.  From what I have read, they have a hard time staffing this business as it's one of the worst jobs and dangerous to one's health.  CAFO employees and surrounding communities are at a higher risk of MRSA's.

    •  'Waste and land use'... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      julesrules39

      Are those regulations largely state or federal level?

      If they're state level, then most of the red states and even some of the purple ones can continue to allow their land and water to be ever-more befouled in the name of profit.

      The Chinese are responding to their own internal pressures, to practice NIMBY agriculture, just as they're NIMBYizing coal production.

      Does the US have much room to talk?  Not really.  We've been every bit as bad to other nations in our turn.

      But we need to start reining in 'big ag' and 'big energy' in ways that mean we face the climate costs we've long ignored.  And meat production carries a lot of ignored costs.

      •  No, it's not NIMBY at all. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PatriciaVa
        The Chinese are responding to their own internal pressures, to practice NIMBY agriculture, just as they're NIMBYizing coal production.
        The Chinese are responding to the fact their food supply chains are suspect, in a country that is rapidly urbanizing and needs longer and trustworthy food supply chains.

        "Made in America" is a sign of food safety.

        The month my wife and I moved to Beijing in 2004, I saw a bag of oatmeal at our local grocery store prominently labeled: “NOT POLLUTED!” How funny that this would be a selling point, we thought.

        But 7 years later as we prepared to return to the US, what was once a joke had become a useful market signal and part of an arsenal of strategies we hoped would limit the risks of encountering tainted food. We ate less fish, which might be raised in polluted waters. We bought vegetables and fruit at Jia Le Fu (Carrefour) or Wo Er Ma (Wal-Mart) on the theory that international brands might have stronger quality controls. We never drank water from the tap, boiled or not. But recent news of problems at Wal-mart, Nongfu Springs (a bottled water company), and a host of other places suggests just how unreliable our strategies might have been.

        http://www.chinafile.com/...

        If you have a policy that covers doctor's bills made necessary by a werewolf bite, and has the words "Health Insurance" on the cover, you can keep that policy!

        by Inland on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:19:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There are both federal and state regulations (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

        governing process wastewater under the Clean
        Water Act for large CAFO operations.

      •  GOP is trying to override state Regs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

        of blue state rules they don't like by changing the Fed Farm Bill.  

        Are those regulations largely state or federal level?
         While the GOP screams "state's rights" when it suits them, now they're claiming violation of interstate commerce against those states that have stricter farming rules than others.

        My Karma just ran over your Dogma

        by FoundingFatherDAR on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:53:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The American standards for chemical additives (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      julesrules39

      to feed such as antibiotics and growth hormones are the most relaxed in the world. There are many meat products and other commodities that use these additives which are banned in most foreign nations.

      The drug and chemical companies control the FDA. Americans now consume more antibiotics and hormones through their food than any other nation.

  •  China has tougher import regulations on pork (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    julesrules39, lotlizard

    than the US. Many of the antibiotics and growth hormones used for domestic production are not allowed. Even the water the pigs consume must conform to higher standards.

    Analysis: Behind China's U.S. pork deal, fears over feed additives
    May 30, 2013

    (Reuters) - When Smithfield Foods Inc. quietly weaned the first of its pigs off the controversial feed additive ractopamine last year, it may have helped open the door for a Chinese counterpart to acquire the world's largest hog producer.

    Used for more than a decade in the U.S. livestock industry to help pigs quickly build lean muscle instead of fat, the additive had begun to ring alarm bells among some major meat importing countries around the globe. U.S. media reports of ractopamine-fed pigs becoming sick fueled questions among food-safety critics last year about the potential long-term impact on human health.
    ...
    The measures highlighted a sharp contrast with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approved ractopamine for use in commercially-raised swine in 1999 and stands by that decision, saying its safety has been corroborated four times. It is used in more than half of the U.S. hog herd, analysts estimate.

    Now Smithfield's move to eliminate ractopamine from more than half of its operations is likely to intensify questions both about the safety of medicated additives and about the livestock industry's increasing reliance on Big Pharma to help engineer the perfect pig - bigger and cheaper than ever.

    The company's decision to break ranks also may pressure peers to follow its lead — or relinquish access to the world's fastest-growing food market, China.
    ...

    •  still doesn't address the impact to climate change (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      julesrules39

      and increased greenhouse gases.

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:06:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You first need to address that problem (0+ / 0-)

        domestically.

        Annual per capita emissions of greenhouse gases

        The only reason Canada ranks so high is because of the tars sands oil of which most of goes to the US to feed Americans insatiable need for cheap gasoline.

        The US got rich on cheap hydrocarbons and the world is now paying for this. The US owes big time.

        CO2 responsibility 1950-2000Clean up the mess at home first. Stop pigging out on the world's resources.

        •  exactly. that's why we need to reduce livestock (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          julesrules39

          production in the US...not increase it to export

          Macca's Meatless Monday

          by VL Baker on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:10:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  First you need to stop eating it and stop (0+ / 0-)

            encouraging emerging markets to increase their consumption.

            Don't you see the hypocrisy of your demands? The real problems of excessive consumption originated in the US AND remain so.

          •  You can't make that statement until you come (0+ / 0-)

            with specific information on emissions characterization on the amount of emissions per unit of production for each meat production system in each of the United States and Canada.

            For example, enteric methane emission determination depends on the efficiency of production....the number of days that it takes to raise livestock to a production weight.   In order to have a valid basis for comparison, you have to have a review of each animal agriculture production system in both counties to determine the amount of CO2e emission equivalents per unit of produced live weight.

            However, you are unlikely to ever make or consider this type of emission comparison because you are ideologically tied to using only the 2006 UN long shadow report which as your fundamental source which does not break out agriculture production systems by country and type.

            •  You also need to consider the long term (0+ / 0-)

              environmental and health impacts of the feed stock, antibiotics, hormones and waste product management that are required to increase meat production rates to the levels found in the US.

              American and Canadian food production use a tremendous amount of hydrocarbons in their production. Much, much greater that developing countries. Currently, China is just beginning to change from small hog production methods to the larger factory production that is typical of Western countries. The Smithfield operation will be the largest Chinese owned operation.

              You need to take into consideration how we ended up where we now are. The developed countries are solely responsible for the current high emission baseline so they must also take financial responsibility to ameliorate it. Americans are still excessive consumers of products that contribute to greenhouse emissions. There is a direct correlation between the two.

    •  Chinese consumers avoid Chinese pork (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CanyonWren, julesrules39

      Which is why Shuanghui decided to buy Smithfield.

      Gives it exceptional brand equity.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

      by PatriciaVa on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:25:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sen. Mikulski's response (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, FoundingFatherDAR

    Back when Smithfield was in negotiations to be purchased, I contacted my Senators and got a response back from Mikulski a while back (rarely hear from Cardin..). It's been a while since I wrote the letter, but I'm pretty sure I focused on the environmental and food quality that could result from the deal. Didn't bring up Chinese ownership of American resources explicitly.

    Her response below (bolding mine):

    Thank you for contacting me about the merger between Smithfield Foods Inc. and Shuanghui International.  It's good to hear from you.

    Like you, I am very concerned about the safety of our food. One of my priorities is to make sure that families and children are protected from unsafe food.  I appreciate hearing your concerns about this proposed merger and its possible effect on food safety, consumer choice and national security.

    The Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States is reviewing the sale to ensure that there are no national security risks that would result from foreign ownership of this U.S. company.

    The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing to examine the proposed sale and the effects of foreign ownership on the U.S. food supply.  Also, a bipartisan group of Senators from the Agriculture Committee has written to Treasury to make sure that experts in food safety and the food supply are consulted in the review process.

    I agree that any business transaction of this size and scope deserves careful review. I have heard from a number of Marylanders about the impact of this proposed sale.  In response, I have contacted the Department of Treasury to inform them of your views and have asked that they address this as soon as possible.  You may also be interested in voicing these concerns directly:

    Department of the Treasury
    1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20220

    I will continue to fight for the resources necessary for our agencies to regulate the nation's food supply.  Knowing of your thoughts on these issues will be helpful to me as the Senate continues to work on agricultural and food safety policies.

    Thanks again for getting in touch with me.  Please let me know if I can be of assistance to you in the future.

    Sincerely,
    Barbara A. Mikulski
    United States Senator

    •  This is what I got back from Senator Dick Durbin (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FoundingFatherDAR

      of Illinois (D)

      Thank you for contacting me about the proposed purchase of Smithfield Foods by the Chinese group Shuanghui International. I appreciate hearing from you.

      On May 29, 2013, the board of Smithfield Foods unanimously backed a takeover bid from Chinese group Shuanghui International. This acquisition would be worth an estimated $7.1 billion and would secure Shuanghui International as the controlling body for Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer.

       Shuanghui’s proposed purchase is being reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment, an inter-agency committee of the United States government that reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in U.S. companies or operations. Although members of Congress have no say in the Committee’s proceedings, I will keep your thoughts in mind as I monitor this situation.

      Foreign investments in this country can be beneficial. Trade, when conducted sensibly and fairly, is good for America. At the same time, we should take a very close look at any proposed deal in which a foreign company would take over important responsibilities related to America’s infrastructure, including food.

      Thank you again for your message. Please feel free to keep in touch.

  •  I detect a hit of protectionism here. Whether it's (6+ / 0-)

    a Chinese-owned or American-owned corporation doesn't matter in the world of regulation.  Corporations are not distinguished by the country they are incorporated in. There is a bit of hysteria going on here and elsewhere about China buying properties owned in the US--there has never been hysteria about the Netherlands who have traditionally been the US' #1 foreign investor of US properties, for example.

    "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying."Edward Snowden -6.62, -6.92

    by CanyonWren on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:11:40 AM PST

    •  it's all about the climate..more meat production (3+ / 0-)

      no matter who eats it creates more greenhouse gases

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:17:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nothing compared to China (3+ / 0-)

      GE and Vestas want to sell wind turbines in China.  The Chinese govt instructs them: share your technology w/ Chinese-owned firms, or you don't have access to our market.  A few years later, Chinese wind turbine manufacturers have taken a HUGE share of the global market.

      On the solar side, want to know why US solar panel makers have gone under?  B/c the Chinese government has decided that it's willing to finance the operating losses of many Chinese closely-held solar panel makers.

      Finally, ask Cisco about the similarities b/w its equipment and that of certain Chinese tech co's.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

      by PatriciaVa on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:18:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  more than a hint (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CanyonWren, FinchJ, Sky Net, lotlizard

      the title and the text contain quite a bit of language that I find objectionable.

      the Chinese have successfully made a land and water grab right here in the U.S.A.
      Just what is being said here? What does the diarist mean by "the Chinese"? The Chinese government? The entire Chinese people? Is the diarist suggesting that this one business deal by one company which happens to be Chinese is a step in some kind of nefarious grand plan by those much larger entities to buy up the US?

      Even if it is just carelessness, this is very divisive and inflammatory, and it feeds people's fears. Even if unintentional, it's veering perilously close to the kind of thing Lou Dobbs said when he spoke of a "reconquista" of the southwest US by Mexican immigrants--vague, alarmist talk of some kind of "takeover" of the US by foreigners.

      After all, if it wasn't a Chinese corporation buying Smithfield, someone else would. Why is it that only in this case is it necessary to specify the nationality of the corporation? Would it be called a British land grab, or an French land grab, or an Indian land grab if a British or French or Indian company had bought Smithfield?

      This deal is a bad deal on the environmental merits, no matter who bought the company. Criticize it on those grounds, not on some kind of nationalistic fear.

      The diarist is excellent on environmental issues, but that cause is very ill-served by the framing used in this diary (and this is not the first diary of hers that has done so). This approach whips up jingoistic sentiment and gets people to think of this issue (industrial agriculture) as some kind of narrow nationalistic conflict between US and China, rather than as a global issue.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:42:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is one way to see it. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, Shahryar, CanyonWren

        I would put it into the context of the reported large agricultural land purchases being made across the world- often called land grabs- that campaigners see as a threat to local, often poor, people who may not have official titles to the land they work.

        A new study, however, reports that these purchases are being overstated in the media. And, surprise, western firms constitute the bulk of the purchases.

        While I can see how this diary can be seen in the terms you have outlined, I also see how it can be put into the context of a global race to purchase agricultural land that is said to disempower local people.

        So what is interesting, from that perspective, is that "China" is expanding its agricultural investments into developed countries. And, of course, doing so in a way that perpetuates an economic system that supports these abusive forms of agriculture.

        •  I don't understand what's so "interesting" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CanyonWren, lotlizard
          what is interesting, from that perspective, is that "China" is expanding its agricultural investments into developed countries. And, of course, doing so in a way that perpetuates an economic system that supports these abusive forms of agriculture.
          Smart companies look for good buys, and when they see them, they make them. That's what companies do, and that's all that's happening here.

          China is one of the world's fastest growing markets. A company saw that there would be a rising demand for food in China and saw another food company that it could buy to provide food for that underserved market. That is all.

          That America is a "developed country" is irrelevant. It's not like just because nation X is developed, there will never be companies in nation X looking to sell. Developed countries will sometimes have assets that are attractive to foreign corporations.

          Probably quite often, in fact. Because the level of infrastructure, technology, skilled labor etc. will be often be much higher than in an undeveloped country. If you want to buy an agricultural company, wouldn't you rather want one with the best equipment and most skilled labor?

          And just what do you mean by putting "China" in quotes? Now, in the process of attempting to clarify what the diarist is saying, you're making things even more mysterious than she is.

          "China"--whatever you mean by that--did not make this deal. A company made this deal. Or do you think that every time GE buys a company overseas, that "America" (in quotes, whatever that means) is behind that deal?

          Are you saying that the Chinese government is not reining in corporations and is neglectful of the environment? Well, they've got plenty of company in that regard.

          There is nothing new or particularly remarkable about any of that. And the diary would have been far more effective without injecting the gloss the diarist put on it.

          "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

          by limpidglass on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:22:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This part, in particular, is spot on: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lotlizard
            "China"--whatever you mean by that--did not make this deal. A company made this deal. Or do you think that every time GE buys a company overseas, that "America" (in quotes, whatever that means) is behind that deal?

            Are you saying that the Chinese government is not reining in corporations and is neglectful of the environment? Well, they've got plenty of company in that regard.

            There is nothing new or particularly remarkable about any of that. And the diary would have been far more effective without injecting the gloss the diarist put on it.

            "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying."Edward Snowden -6.62, -6.92

            by CanyonWren on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:32:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, you got it at the end there- (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CanyonWren
            Are you saying that the Chinese government is not reining in corporations and is neglectful of the environment? Well, they've got plenty of company in that regard.
            Yes. I am saying that. And, this might come as a surprise, but I am very well aware that they have plenty of company in the deplorable on the environment front. That doesn't mean that every time someone criticizes anything that one must mention the rest of the company kept by the thing under scrutiny. Discussion would hardly get anywhere if we were to go down that road.

            I am also saying that it is a sad state of affairs that our economic system considers Smithfield to be a good buy or a company worth investing in.

            Since you asked, if I wanted to buy an agricultural company, I would buy one that is working in regenerative enterprises and not one that is deeply entrenched in a wholly unsustainable system of production.

            What I mean by "China" in quotes is that whatever the details, people are going to see this as China purchasing an American company.

      •  One concern is that the Smithfield purchase gives (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VL Baker, CanyonWren

        China almost a monopoly on pork.  Prior to the acquisition, China produced more pork than the rest of the world put together.  

        Here's some interesting information on China's increase in meat consumption.    The purchase of Smithfield will further entrench us in unsustainable agricultural practices.

      •  I agree. Gratuitous pivot toward Sinophobia, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Claudius Bombarnac, CanyonWren

        … if not yellow peril-ism?

        Shuanghui bought it fair and square, jumping through all the hoops, did they not?

        The words "land grab" and the general thrust those words represent have the capacity to summon some unpleasant historical ghosts.

        Internment was popular among many white farmers who resented the Japanese American farmers. "White American farmers admitted that their self-interest required removal of the Japanese."[20] These individuals saw internment as a convenient means of uprooting their Japanese American competitors. Austin E. Anson, managing secretary of the Salinas Vegetable Grower-Shipper Association, told the Saturday Evening Post in 1942:
        "We're charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We do. It's a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men. They came into this valley to work, and they stayed to take over… If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we'd never miss them in two weeks, because the white farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. And we do not want them back when the war ends, either."[28]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

        by lotlizard on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:39:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Protectionism is the wrong word (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac, CanyonWren

      Because a protectionist would cheer the fact that american pork is getting exported to China. The whole point of protectionism is to protect domestic producers. This is more like xenophobia (if not worse).

  •  Yellow peril has finally come (5+ / 0-)

    Flee to Mars while you can.

  •  Your declarations in this paragraph (7+ / 0-)

    are erroneous or misleading:

    The Smithfield-Shuanghui deal guarantees China the pork while offloading the downsides of pork production onto The Land of the Free. It guarantees us cropland devoted to chemical-dependent monoculture; continued overuse of water and other resources, none of which we can afford to squander; and great big stinking piles of manure. In sum, it transfers the environmental damage of large-scale pork production from China to the United States.
    You claim that the "deal" in which interests in China acquire Smithfield somehow causes the "offloading [of] the downsides of pork production onto The Land of the Free."   The problem with this claim is that Smithfield Farms already operates large numbers of facilities in the United States so an ownership change really does not change anything at all about the environmental effects being caused by Smithfield facilities which will continue to operate after the China deal.

    Your claim that an ownership change "transfers the environmental damage of large-scale port production from China to the United States" is erroneous since an ownership change cannot be the cause of such 'transfers...[of] environmental damage.   Nothing in your article is a claim that Smithfield will expand production or the numbers of its facilities.  Absent that claim, there is no valid claim of a transfer of environmental damage.

  •  it would be useful to distinguish between (5+ / 0-)

    Chinese state capitalists (yeah some of them are members of the PLA, but they do own US debt) with their US corporate partners and "The Chinese" given the usual sinophobia in DK as though exploitable labor doesn't exist anywhere else on the planet

    Our corrupt and toxic agriculture sector has sold us out to the highest bidder; and that would be the Chinese. With the approval of the sale of Smithfield foods, the world's largest pork producer, the Chinese have successfully made a land and water grab right here in the U.S.A.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:07:04 AM PST

  •  Meanwhile, GOP congress wants to use farm bill (0+ / 0-)

    to override CA state laws protecting certain livestock.  

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:46:13 AM PST

  •  Exports (0+ / 0-)

    There's an assumption here that all of Smithfield production will be exported to China.  It may be, but if the company's smart they'll sell where the price is best, and I imagine the previous owners were already doing that.

    Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

    by Sky Net on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:11:25 PM PST

  •  This diary is a poor attempt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sky Net, limpidglass

    to wrap an environmental issue in nationalist colors.  It doesn't work for many reasons, as pointed out in a number of the comments.

    Play chess for the Kossacks on Chess.com. Join the site, then the group at http://www.chess.com/groups/view/kossacks.

    by rhutcheson on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:57:57 PM PST

    •  this diary is an attempt to explain that climate (0+ / 0-)

      change is a global problem.  the US can't export our emissions elsewhere without worsening the global climate change situation.  the worst emitters, including the US, are
      responsible for the impacts everywhere.  

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 02:14:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Purchasing goods manufactured in China is also (0+ / 0-)

        a method of exporting emissions.

        The US imports 20 million tons of steel per month. It takes a ton of coal to produce a ton of iron and a further 1/2 ton of coal to produce a ton of steel. The US is the second highest exporter of coking coal in the world.

        The US is the second highest user of steel at about 1/6 of China but China exports much of it's steel in the form of pipe and consumer goods. In the 40's, 50's and 60's, the US was the top producer of coal and steel in the world.

        U.S. once had air pollution to match China’s today

        One of the worst of these episodes, and one that helped focus attention on U.S. air pollution, was the choking, deadly smog that covered Donora, Pa., in the Monongahela River Valley, 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh from Oct. 27 to 31, 1948.

        In the 1940s residents of Donora considered the smoke coming from the town’s U.S. Steel Corp. Donora Zinc Works and the American Steel & Wire factory as a price they paid for the jobs held by roughly half of the town’s 14,000 residents. (Note: The U.S. Census Bureau says the current population of Donora is 4,745.)

        By Friday evening Oct. 28, 1948, though, thick gray fog covered Donora and the town’s eight physicians were rushing to the homes of people who were having trouble breathing. The town’s firefighters and police were taking oxygen tanks to residents who needed them, and firefighters from surrounding communities were helping keep Donora supplied with oxygen.

  •  Now is the time for activism (0+ / 0-)

    I also posted this on the Facebook page.

    Imma overlook the inherent racist tone in the use of the term 'colonization'. and what I am going to say is this: So what? The United States grew rich- and stays- off our EXPORT OF COMMODITY CROPS. The entire midwest grew because of the vast tracts of wheat and corn exported to a very hungry Europe. Slavery and then Jim Crow existed because of cotton, sugar, rice and hemp- all commodity crops. Commodity crops continues to be important.
     What must be done is to bear pressure on Big AG and get lawmakers and judges who will preserve soil integrity, water safety and ensure the welfare and health of workers who help produce these good to market. This is an opportunity for those who care about about our natural resources to get into serious gear, and not for masked Red China scare tactics.

    1) Reduce subsidies - if these Ag companies wanna make a profit, fine. But they can't pursue profit and then cry about losing money on grain.
    2) Give more subsidies to smaller, localized farmers, including grains farmers with 250 acres or less- this not only gives more diversity in food, but more diverse farmers- women and minorities - who would be able to have their own land for farming;
    3) Get some real enforcers of agricultural laws regarding waste- and start fining Big AG HARD
    4) reduce research grants for ADM and Monsanto- if they wanna work on their blockbuster new crop, fine. Don't abuse citizens dollars for it;
    5) Be hard on water polluters- Big AG and industrial. We have been marginally better at this but more pressure needs to come to bear.

  •  So f the Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty (0+ / 0-)

    is ratified, wouldn't we be prevented from cutting subsidies if it cuts into the pork producers' profits? My understanding is that each nation in that treaty could be required to pay corporations for lost profits if we pass laws that cut into projected profits - whether it's cutting subsidies, protecting the environment, employment laws like minimum wage, animal cruelty laws, etc. I sometimes have the feeling the corporatocracy is getting very close to having us all in Check-Mate.

  •  This is only fair after all (0+ / 0-)

    When we off shored our jobs to China, Chinese factories and Chinese labor, and closed our own plants here, we did something else.

    We shipped them all the pollution that manufacturing would have caused here. In fact, we increased it because the Chinese government was in no hurry to force those factories to comply with environmental laws - if they had any.

    And that's another reason the Chinese are coming to us for food. They have polluted their water supply so badly, what they do have is in increasingly short supply. It's limiting their food production.

    Think of this as a mutual suicide pact. They couldn't have done it without us.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 11:03:40 AM PST

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